6 Strategies to Maximize Earned Media for Your Brand
One of the new buzzwords that has been attracting a lot of attention in the content marketing space is earned media.
Everywhere you turn, you will find marketers claiming how vital earned media is to your digital strategy.
It has been touted to be one of the most effective ways of building brand awareness, driving demand, and acquiring new leads.
But what exactly is earned media, and how can you take advantage of it?
In today’s article, we are going to take a look at what earned media is, why your brand needs earned media, and six strategies that will help you maximize earned media for your brand.
WHAT IS EARNED MEDIA?
Earned media refers to any publicity that is organically generated and that boosts your brand and marketing efforts. In contrast to paid media, earned media is free.
Earned media is achieved when a third party who is not affiliated to your business creates or distributes content on the behalf of your brand.
Earned media comes in the form of reviews, shared social media posts, guest posts, press mentions, awards, influencer recognition, and so on. Earned media is one of the desired results of a brand’s social media and public relations efforts.
Earned media acts as a vehicle that helps prospective clients get to your owned media.
Owned media refers to web property that is unique to your brand and that is under your brand’s control.
Some great examples of owned media include websites, blogs, and social media channels.
While owned media is important, it is of no use if people are not viewing or interacting with it. Earned media provides this vital link between your target audience and your owned media.
For instance, if your business is featured on a top blog within your industry, new people will learn about your business and might visit your website or social media pages to get more information about your business. In this regard, earned media can be thought of as online word of mouth.
In addition to being free, earned media also opens up your business to an entirely new audience.
Most of the third-parties who create or distribute content related to your brand will most likely have an audience that is totally different from the audience that you are able to reach by yourself, therefore widening your brand’s reach.
However, earned media will only have a positive impact on your business if your brand is engaging with customers on social media, producing creative and valuable content, and generally making customers happy.
TYPES OF EARNED MEDIA
Like I mentioned earlier, earned media can come in many forms. Some of the most common include:
A Blogger Who Decides to Review Your Product
When you pay a blogger to review your product, or offer a blogger your products for free in exchange for a review, that counts as paid media, rather than earned media.
However, when a blogger is delighted with your product and decides to create content reviewing the product, without expecting any compensation from you, that qualifies as earned media.
Influencers or Social Media Users Sharing Your Brand’s Post
When your followers or influencers within your industry come across your social media posts and decide (out of their own volition) to retweet the content or share with their followers, that counts as earned media.
It means that they like your content to the extent they are willing to promote it to their own friends and followers.
However, whenever you hire an influencer to promote your product or participate in a social media campaign, that counts as paid media, rather than earned media.
Whenever a journalist or reporter mentions your brand as part of a magazine story or a news article, or whenever your brand is mentioned on TV or radio, that counts as earned media. However, any advertisements placed on these media do not count as earned media.
Organic Search Results Ranking
Having a high ranking on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) is another type of earned media.
However, for search engine rankings to counts as earned media, you need to have attained the high ranking organically.
If the ranking was achieved by paying for prominent placing, that does not count as earned media.
WHY YOUR BRAND NEEDS EARNED MEDIA
One of the greatest reasons why you should start thinking about earned media, if you haven’t already, is because of the trust your brand stands to gain from earned media.
In an age where consumers are constantly being bombarded with advertisements left, right, and center, people are more likely to trust recommendations coming from their friends and peers than messages coming from the brands themselves.
Actually, a study conducted by Nielsen found that 83% of consumers completely trust recommendations that come from family and friends. In a world that is dominated by social media, the term “friend” has become very flexible.
Today, people treat people they connect with on social media as friends, even if they might have never met and might even be in different continents.
This means that the most trusted source of information about your business does not come from the messages your business disseminates to the public, but from what other people – previous customers, the media and influencers – are saying about your business.
When satisfied customers leave positive reviews about your business or products, they are more likely to be responsive than they might be to any hard sales message put out by your brand.
This is why your brand needs to put a lot of focus into nurturing good relationships with loyal customers, also known as brand advocates.
One of the reasons why consumers don’t trust messages from brands is because they know that ultimately, the brand is trying to sell its products and might therefore be economical with the truth when it comes to talking about its own products.
However, when people who have previously used your products post reviews, ratings, recommendations, and stories about their experience with your business and products, they have nothing to gain from it.
They are just giving their honest opinion about their interaction with your brand and products.
This is why their message is more credible, and is the reason why most consumers will go online to check reviews and recommendations from other customers before making a purchase.
The other reason why earned media is good for your brand is that it leads to a higher conversion rate, which in turn means that it has a higher return on investment.
According to AdAge, brands that focus on earned media see conversion rates of 5% or higher, compared to a conversion rate of just 1% or less for paid media.
The higher return on investment of earned media stems from the fact that earned media is more cost-effective, since brands don’t pay directly for the content.
However, this does not mean that there are no costs associated with earned media.
Brands have to put in time and energy to build strong relationships with their customers and brand advocates. In addition, the investment put into getting earned media is more sustainable.
As long as you have built strong relationships with customers, and as long as they continue to be satisfied with your products and services, they will continue leaving positive reviews about your brand, sharing your posts, and recommending your products and services to their friends and family.
THE DRAWBACK OF EARNED MEDIA
While earned media increases your brand’s credibility and has a higher conversion rate and ROI, it is not without its drawbacks.
The biggest drawback of earned media is that you have the least amount of control over earned media compared to paid and owned media.
When publishing content on media you own, such as your website or social media pages, you have full discretion over what content to put up and the message within the content.
When you pay someone to publish content about your brand, they might have their conditions, such as content type, length, and so on, but you still have control over the message within the content.
When it comes to earned media, you don’t have the luxury of control.
Customers who were not satisfied with your products might post disgruntled comments about your company.
Bloggers who had a negative experience with your business might write a bad review about your brand.
Such negative earned media can have a very huge impact on your business, especially if it goes viral, and the worst part is that there is not much you can do about it.
If someone feels that their experience with your brand was wanting, you cannot prevent them from sharing their opinion.
To avoid receiving negative earned media, your brand needs to put a lot of focus into keeping its customers satisfied, so that they will only have great things to say about your brand.
Try to limit customer frustrations as much as possible.
6 STRATEGIES TO MAXIMIZE EARNED MEDIA
You have diligently focused on providing a delightful experience to your customers, you have built strong relationships with your customers, influencers, and bloggers within your industry, your PR team has been hard at work, and you have finally earned a feature in a “Top 10” article in one of the biggest magazines within your niche.
While this earned publicity will definitely boost your business, if you want to make the most from it, you need to have a plan in place for maximizing this publicity.
If you have received some awesome earned media and are unsure on how to proceed from there, below are a few pointers on how to get the most from it.
Tap Into Your Stakeholders’ Networks
After receiving a positive mention in a publication or blog, you want to spread the word as wide as possible.
You want to create buzz around the positive publicity you have just received and get people talking about your company on social media.
The more people talk about it, the wider your message will go.
Most social media platforms have algorithms for keeping track of the pieces of content that are attracting a lot of engagements – shares, comments, clicks, and so on.
If you get people talking about your positive mention in a publication, different social media platforms will amplify the content by showing it to similar audiences.
One way to create some buzz around your positive publicity is to tap into the personal networks of the various stakeholders in your business. Start with your employees.
Ask them to share the positive brand mention with their social media followers and start a conversation around your brand.
This will give you a wider reach than you would have achieved by yourself.
For instance, let’s say that your company has a total of 10,000 followers across all social media platforms.
At the same time, each of your 25 employees has at least 1000 followers across all social media platforms.
By asking them to share your positive brand mention with their followers, you can potentially reach 25000 more people than you would have reached by only sharing the content on your company social media pages.
Do the same thing with the board members and other investors in your business.
They are invested in the success of your business, and will therefore be interested in learning of any positive mentions the business has attracted.
However, don’t stop at that. Request them to also share this with their networks, just as you did with your employees.
Of course, most won’t mind sharing positive news about a company they have invested in.
You might also want to include the positive brand mention in emails to prospects and customer newsletters.
The point here is to have the positive brand mention shared as much as possible.
The more it is shared and talked about, the more it will be amplified on different social media platforms, and the more potential customers it will reach.
Tap Into Your Personal Sphere of Influence
Tapping into your sphere of influence can also go a long way into boosting your media exposure.
Reach out to people within your circle and send them a personalized message asking them to share the article.
Of course, you should also be willing to do the same should they approach you with such a request.
When doing this, resist the temptation to send a generic message to everyone within your circle.
If you want to increase the chances of them actually sharing your article, take a few minutes and create an individual message for each one of them.
If possible, you can even form a network of people who are willing to support each other’s business by sharing each other’s wins to increase the exposure for each one’s business.
Create a Twitter Chat Around the Topic
Soon after your brand receives a positive mention in a big publication, you should create a Twitter chat where people within your company and your customers can talk about the article where your brand was featured and its contents.
It is important to do this soon after the article is published, since people will be more likely to participate in the chat while the topic is still hot.
However, you can schedule the chat to start a few hours or a day after the article is published, while you generate some buzz for the chat in the meantime.
To get the chat started, have your employees have a conversation about the article or topic, and have them invite other people who might be interested into the conversation.
For instance, you might tag some of your target customers and influencers within your industry to get them involved in the conversation.
You can even get your friends and family to participate in the chat to attract more people to the conversation. You should also use a relevant hashtag to generate more buzz for the chat and make it easier to keep track of all the contributions to the topic.
It’s good to note that sometimes, getting consumers to jump onto your designated hashtag can be a bit of a challenge, and therefore you need to ensure that your chosen hashtag is encouraging and engaging. Below are some tips on how to do that.
- Make your hashtag straightforward and relevant: You want your followers to be able to know immediately what the hashtag is all about so that they can get involved. If your hashtag is confusing, people are less likely to post their messages on it. In addition, your hashtag should be easy to spell and remember.
- It should be short and to the point: Tweets are capped at only 140 characters per tweet, so you don’t want to take too much of the available characters with an unnecessarily long hashtag.
- Make sure it hasn’t been used before: Before you settle on a specific hashtag, do some research to ascertain that the hashtag hasn’t been used before. You don’t want your brand to end up using a hashtag that is associated with something else, or worse, one that is associated with something negative.
In addition, you should also avoid using generic hashtags, avoid hashtags that don’t reflect your brand’s values, and avoid using multiple hashtags, since this can end up confusing your followers.
Promote the Positive Brand Mention on Social Media
If you have received a positive review from a prestigious publication, you can take advantage of this positive brand mention by promoting it to your ideal customers through paid social media ads.
Almost every social media platform allows users to run paid and highly targeted ads, so all you need to do is to choose platforms that are most popular among your target audience and run campaigns to advertise the article to prospective customers.
Doing so will make it possible for an even bigger number of people to see that you have been featured on a prestigious publication.
The best part about using this strategy is that it is not expensive – even a $20 budget might be enough.
In addition, you have the option of A/B testing different ads to see which ones work best.
Of course, it is pointless to have an earned media strategy if you have no way of measuring its effectiveness.
You need a way of measuring the ROI of your earned media, which will then help you to fine tune and optimize your strategy to receive even better results.
Fortunately, there are a ton of comprehensive analytics software that allow brands to monitor their mentions in real time.
These software can help you track your reach following being featured in an influential publication and help you come up with better ways of making the most from the publicity.
Aside from mentions, other metrics you should track following the positive publicity include impressions, engagement, leads, and sales.
If you are embarking on an active earned media campaign (where you deliberately engage in activities that will potentially attract earned media), you need to set goals for your earned media campaign before launching the campaign.
This makes it easier to measure success, because you are aware of what you were aiming for.
Get Hands-On With PR
Finally, to get the most out of your earned media, you also need to make sure that your positive mention reaches other media outlets.
If your feature in a big publication has garnered a lot of buzz and attracted lots of traffic, other media outlets might also be interested in covering your brand.
Therefore, following your positive brand mention, when there is still lots of buzz around the topic, send pitches to other media outlets to get even more coverage and increase your overall visibility.
Some of your press contacts might even start reaching out to you after seeing your brand popping up in a couple of other big publications.
When brands receives a positive mention in an influential place, most brands simply revel in the afterglow of this publicity and enjoy the small spike in business.
Smart brands, on the other hand, take maximum advantage of the publicity and milk it for all its worth.
Don’t be most brands. Be a smart brand and take maximum advantage of your earned media.
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